Eomer vs Squirrel
A dog protects his block.
Made by Tonya Sedgwick
Created: December 7th, 2014
Feedback and Iteration: I received a lot of feedback and advice from Professor Sastre during the Friday lab period with regards to music composition. Since I have very little musical knowledge, this was instrumental in my creating the musical pieces that I did. The soundtrack starts off with a recording I created using the drums keyboard setting in Logic Pro. It is meant to build tension while Eomer sniffs around, seeking the squirrel. Then, when he sees the squirrel, there the flutes start in. I chose the flute because squirrels are small animals. Because the squirrel is Eomer's sworn enemy, however, I chose to use lower notes. The flute builds up the climax as Eomer chases it into the tree, and therefore off of "his" territory. When Eomer trees the squirrel, the flute sounds become more triumphant, and shift out of the minor key. When Eomer feels he has won, a new recording, using a brass section, comes in, illustrating his having won the territory battle. The screen goes to black while the brass instruments fade away. I used much of the feedback I received about music composition in order to create each of these tunes. I chose to leave Eomer's bark out of the soundtrack because it is very high-pitched and sounds like he's whining, and I thought that would detract from the representation of his feelings that is provided by the music.
Technical Issues: I had a lot of technical issues with my Flip Video camera, mostly because it's frames per second are not good enough to capture motion well. I had originally intended to use some point of view shots (from Eomer's POV), but these turned out too blurry/dizzying to use. It was also tremendously difficult to capture the squirrels on film, because they were hiding for most of the week because they didn't like the rain (this is why I failed to put up a preview). Luckily this morning, there was a whole family of them. In terms of the music, it took me several hours to compose the songs, but since I was using Logic Pro's recording feature and the exterior keyboard, making decent sound was not difficult. Synchronizing the soundtrack to the video was a little harder. The second time you see the squirrel, the flutes are just a second off timing. I was able to exclude undesired rests, although the transitions between each sound could have been better.
Composition Theory: One of the primary things I did was to use a minor key to represent the antagonist, and a major key to represent the protagonist. I also played with crescendo (the whole piece crescendos to Eomer's triumph). I was playing with fantasy movie style themes throughout because I thought that would create a heightened emotion which, in this case, was meant to add humor. It seemed very silly to have very dramatic music surrounding a dog chasing a squirrel. It represents how the dog sees himself (when he's chasing squirrels, to him it's the most important thing in the world). In the beginning sounds--the suspicious clink-clack percussion ones--I was thinking along the lines of some of the music from Planet of the Apes (although I didn't listen to it before composing that piece--the instrument just reminded me of it, and I recalled that it had made a good creepy suspense part in the movie).
Research: For the final part of the piece, I was thinking of great classical music composers, and how some of them like to send you off with a "bang." The brass instrument setting (in which each key in Logic represents a different horn) seemed the best option for this. This reflected some of what we'd listened to for class.
Critical Reflection: I think that my final composition is moderately successful. I think it could be funnier if I knew my way around a keyboard a bit better, but given my skills and knowledge, I'm quite satisfied with the finished product. I had a lot of fun with this project, especially playing with all the different sounds I could make using the information on keys and chords that Professor Sastre gave me. The one thing that influenced me from past comments was that Professor Sastre mentioned in the synth patch assignment that holding the final note for awhile was interested, and so when I was playing with potential compositions, I included sustained notes like that, which turned out to work in Eomer's triumphant end.
Curatorial Statement: This piece is meant to represent the most exciting part of my dog's day: chasing the squirrels that live on the block we walk on. Almost every day, we see at least one squirrel, and he always gets very excited and wants to chase them so they run up into trees. He does this because his breed instincts--he is a Cockapoo, which means half poodle, half cocker spaniel. The spaniel part of him is the one that wants to chase animals into trees (because spaniels were originally bred by hunters who wanted a dog that would flush small game either into trees or into the air if it was birds, so they could more easily be found and shot). Because of his instincts, this is a very dramatic time of day for him, and he's always on the alert when I take him for a walk. Reflecting his instincts, I wanted to create a heightened sense of emotion, so that the piece represents his feelings/instincts. For this reason, I used dramatic music. Furthermore, I think it's really funny/cute when he chases squirrels, because he's so small (only 15 pounds) and so he doesn't seem like a hunter. The heightened emotions expressed through the music were, therefore, meant to add humor, because from a human's perspective, he's being silly. As such, my objectives were twofold: to represent Eomer's perspective, and mine.
Account of the Process: See above.
Critical Reflection: I think if my worst enemy viewed this piece, they would probably find it trite. The music is overly dramatic. Furthermore, I was not able to figure out how to re-incorporate some of the earlier themes in the final triumphant one. That being said, I think all that works in my favor to some extent, since I was more interested in it being dramatic and silly, than dramatic and serious. The themes probably could have been better faded into each other. I think now I respond to my piece thinking that the beginning scenes ("Do you wanna go for a walk?" and opening the door) probably were not necessary. Before this semester, I would have been very impressed with the soundtrack's themes, although the above critical remarks about the transitions and beginning likely would have been the same.
I think that the sum of a lot of these comments is the idea that maybe the combination of video and sound didn't exactly convey a clear and cohesive narrative. I think that there are a lot of different ways to do that, and a bunch of examples are listed above, but first the story should be clearly set.